I read a great article on the PFA website by dietician Matt Lawson who has spent his career helping professional footballers meet their nutritional needs.
The article resonated with me as he talks about the rise in plant-based diets within football. Below are some of the key points mentioned and my opinion on them.
Lawson says, “There’s growing evidence that a plant-based diet is a perfectly reasonable way to go if a player wishes. However, it’s important their chefs and catering teams make sure they’re still achieving their carbohydrate, protein and fat requirements.”
I found being able to rely on the club catering a lot more challenging than you would imagine, even at the higher level clubs. I often had to prepare my own lunch and bring it in as the concept of being plant-based was so alien back when I started. I would always go in and chat with the chef at the beginning of each season to make my meal requests. They would always oblige but often unwittingly cook the veg in butter or add non-vegan salad dressings meaning I wouldn’t be able to eat. One thing I’ve learnt is preparation is key and I never leave the house without snacks and items that work for my diet. Being caught short and hungry as an athlete is not an option.
He also says, “I wouldn’t push one dietary approach over another, but I always explain the benefits of the different dietary approaches available. A plant-based diet can definitely be one of the best.”
It’s great to see a dietician within sports acknowledging that plants do mean power and explaining how a plant-based diet can improve performance.
He goes on to say, “plant-based diets tend to be very high in iron, vitamin C, and fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. ADEK vitamins together with nutrients like iron play an important part in fuelling muscles with oxygen. This helps footballers perform well at high intensity. A plant-based diet naturally includes lots of vegetables and pulses with high iron content, lending itself quite well to maximising the intake of these key nutrients.”
Factual information on utilising a plant-based diet to get the best from your body is great for those who oppose it . A mostly plant-based diet has benefited me massively with my fitness and recovery. I would highly recommend giving it a go but make sure you research thoroughly to ensure you are getting enough nutrients.
For more information on Matt Lawson the ‘Diet Coach’ here
Original article here
Photo credit: Adil Rami